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tv   Deadline White House  MSNBC  May 18, 2017 1:00pm-2:01pm PDT

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"newshour" and senator john mccain. mccain was asked about democrats saying joe lieberman may not have enough law enforcement experience to head the fbi. with a reminder of how many years john mccain spent happily in the u.s. navy. here is the quote from john mccain. "joe lieberman has more experience than all of my democratic colleagues combined. so screw them. and you can quote me." so senator mccain is on the board at this hour as we pass into the 4:00 p.m. hour eastern time. andrea mitchell, chief foreign affairs correspondent, "a," save us, "b," has been standing by listening to this. andrea, let's talk about the general flynn aspect and if you have time as we watch the front of this room load up, just set the stakes, give us the briefest biological sketch of the colombian president that the president of the united states is hosting today. >> reporter: sure thing. first of all, on that score, the colombian president is meeting with president trump in the aftermath of a secret meeting with his predecessors who oppose
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a deal that he won the nobel peace prize in october for winning because a deal that he made after a 50-year war with guerillas in his country, that peace treaty now opposed by some of his predecessors, there's a lot of debate down there and a secret meeting in mar-a-lago with them which was not announced revealed only by people in mar-a-lago who saw it happened. that is an undercurrent here and will be very important to the colombians whether or not president trump comes out and takes a shot at that peace agreement. that said, this is going to be a news conference dominated by u.s. questions on who's going to be the fbi director, is it joe lieberman? what about bob mueller? what about what's been reported by savannah guthrie, other of our colleagues, coming out of a luncheon with senior officials that the president is very strongly against the bob mueller announcement? believes that it is divisive. joe lieberman, i remember many,
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many evenings and days tracking john mccain, joe lieberman and lindsey graham, the three ami amigos, and we know, i know from personal experience that john mccain really, really wanted joe lieberman to be his running mate in '08. i think nicolle wallace, your wingperson there, knows better than anyone else, about that. and that he was persuaded instead that democrats would not take kindly to that, and so sarah palin became his running mate. and the rest is history. but joe lieberman and john mccain so close. i know him, first knew him, he was the attorney general in connecticut. later senator. he brought bill and hillary clinton from yale law school into politics. first joining the 1972 campaign and going down to texas so there's a lot of history there as well. >> we just started, as andrea mentioned, the 4:00 p.m. hour. this is normally your time slot. >> happy to share it with everybody. >> since your name was just invoked, you get rebuttal. >> well, listen, i -- no one
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ever -- yeah, andrea gets every story right. you know, i remember the period, though, when john mccain was sort of sifting through who to pick as his running mate. we were in sedona. it was august. for some reason, he loved that. i'm from san francisco. >> wow. >> i was melting from the core out. he really did wrestle with doing what he wanted and doing what he thought was politically prudent and if there's a case that gets written in every textbook about going with your gut, doing what you want, mimagine how differen the history of the republican party would be, history of the country would be, if he picked his friend joe lieberman. i want to say something, too, i keep hearing this loyalty to flynn. you know, i said this last night, it's something like a circuit blows in my brain. donald trump isn't loyal to anyone. he -- he had three of the most loyal and faithful surrogates in newt gingrich and rudy giuliani and chris christie, they got nothing. hi met mike flynn i think the same year he announced for president and for some bizarre
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reason, back to your question about russia, russia, russia, he stands by him and only him. >> we're looking at members of the colombian delegation come in. there's the vice president. through the doorway. we're within -- jared kushner. we're within the two-minute warning here. peter alexander is in the east room. peter, we're starting to see those first two rows of reserved seats fill up. >> reporter: yeah, brian, that's exactly right. jared kushner, reince priebus, h.r. mcmaster. their names are on those seats in the front rows. they'll be arriving here momentarily. what's striking about this moment, for a white house that's been lurching from one crisis to the other over the course of the last ten days in may as we've been reporting, this is the first opportunity for the president to be forced to answer questions about some of them, if not all of them. of course, he'd like the focus to be on some other things like the foreign trip that he departs on tomorrow, but still, so many outstanding questions about michael flynn, about the sharing of highly classified information in the oval office with top russian officials, about that memo from james comey, and most recently, about the appointment
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of a special counsel that the president, himself, told our colleague savannah guthrie and others who were behind closed doors with him in one of those lunches that they hold for some reporters and anchors before big trips like the ones this week, that he viewed that appointment, in his words, as being bad for the country. he said it hurts our country terribly. he said it demonstrates that we're not united, that we're divided. he'll have an opportunity to make those points on camera, i presumes a short time from now. >> all right. peter alexander. that is the question going into something like this. with a highly unpredictable president, a president who has taken to twitter, a president just today, and a president who has allowed this luncheon of journalists to quote him on the record about a special counsel, day 118 of his presidency was yesterday. already has a special counsel looking into all things russia,
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ov overarching huge topic with a special counsel who really is above reproach in a town with a lot of reproach these days, who has an enormous scope, breadth of this investigation. almost unlimited powers, and there are very few people around who are going to doubt mueller's motives, who are going to say he's not in it for the right reasons and who are going to want to trim his sails and reduce his power in the scope of this investigation. nicolle wallace, as a former white house communications director, knowing we are probably seconds away from these both men walking in, this is a very familiar sight. >> you know, what i just looked at everyone sitting in the front row, saw jared kushner, h.r. -- you saw this foreign policy team, they're almost operating in a parallel universal. i spoke to a senior national security aide to the president earlier who briefed me on what's going to happen on the trip in all three stops. i had to flip to a new page of
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my notebook. the other pages were full of russia scandal, flynn, comey. he's leaving tomorrow on his first national security trip and about to start the press conference with a world leader. >> president coming in the room with the president of colombia. >> thank withdryou very much. it's a great pleasure to welcome president santos to the white house. colombia is one of our closest allies in the hemisphere, and today we reaffirm partnership between our two great nations. president santos and i had a very productive meeting and we will continue to work very closely together to bring peace, safety, and prosperity to the hemisphere. perhaps no area is really more important in terms of
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cooperation than our joint effort to end the terrible drug crimes that plague both of our countries. recently, we have seen an alarmed, and i mean really a very highly alarmed, an alarming trend. last year, colombia cocaine production reached a record high, which hopefully will be remedied very quickly by the president. we must confront this dangerous threat to our societies together. today, i affirm the united states' willingness to assist colombia's strategy to target and eliminate drug trafficking networks, elicit financings, coca cultivation and cocaine production of which there is far too much. the drug epidemic is poisoning too many american lives and we're going to stop it. many different ways, one of them will be the wall.
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my administration is committed to keeping drugs and gangs from pouring into our country. already border crossings are down more than 73%. secretary kelly is with us. he's done a fantastic job. thank you very much, mr. secretary. and in short, we have a tremendous group of people working with us in terms of i.c.e., the i.c.e. patrol and the border patrol agents. they've done a fantastic job and i'd like to give them my highest compliments, mr. secretary. and ms-13, likewise, a horrible, horrible large group of gangs that have been let into our country over a fairly short period of time, are being decimated by the border patrol, by i.c.e., and by our incredible local police forces. and they are getting out of our
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country, or in some cases, going directly into prisons throughout our country, but they've literally taken over towns and cities of the united states. they will be gone very quickly. i look forward to working with president santos as we target drug trafficking. both the united states and colombia have strong law enforcement and security relationship. we've had it and especially over the last fairly short period of time. together we will continue to fight the criminal networks responsible for the deadly drug trade that our people have a really strong commitment to getting rid of because they want a much brighter future. president santos and i also discussed the deteriorating situation in venezuela, and it is really in a very bad state,
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as you see, as we all see through the media. the stable and peaceful venezuela is in the best interest of the entire hemisphere and america stands with all of the people in our great hemisphere yearning to be free. we will be working with colombia and other countries on the venezuelan problem. it's a very, very horrible problem and from a humanitarian standpoint, it is like nothing we've seen in quite a long time. the united states and colombia are also strong economic partners and we will continue to pursue trade policies that benefit both of our peoples. the nations' common goals of protecting our citizens, expanding opportunity, and confronting the drug crisis, will improve the lives of our people and many throughout the region.
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so many people are being so horribly affected by what's going on in terms of violence and in terms of drugs and we're going to take care of the situation and we both agreed to take care of it strongly and quickly. president santos, it was an honor to meet with you and your entire group of representatives. very talented people, indeed, who have been working with us and my representatives. i look forward to many more productive meetings such as the one we just had. i'd like to thank you very much for being at the white house, being our guest and i'd like to congratulate you on winning the nobel peace prize. it's a very great achievement. thank you very much. >> mr. president, i want to thank you personally for this warm and productive visit and for the strong support colombia
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has received from your administration, from congress, and from the american people. >> translator: as you know, our nations have had for a long time a strategic alliance, an extraordinary friendship. we believe in the same principles of democracy, freedom and the rule of law. and we work so that the western heems fe hemisphere can be more prosperous and safe. the united states and colombia, they're both democracies of greater -- of longer standing in the hemisphere. we have supported each other, our soldiers fight shoulder to shoulder in the korean war at the request of the united
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states, we send anti-drug experts to afghanistan. today colombia and the united states are working together to support central america in their fight against drug cartels and the violence of organized crime. i can say, mr. president, based on our conversation this afternoon, that i have no doubt that the united states and colombia continue to be today more than ever a support one for the other. our alliance was strengthened. our most valuable cooperation has been plant colombia. we've taken some up in very simple terms. when colombians were fighting to survive for our democracy to survive, actually, faced with the threat of terrorism and drug
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trafficking, the united states stretched out a hand and helped us win that battle. we will never forget it. today, we're living a different country. today colombia is a very peaceful society, a more modern and a fairer society. in november last year, we ended the longest and last armed conflict existing in our hemisphere. the guerilla is putting down weapons at this precise time to the united nations. security has gone down significantly. today we have the lowest levels of violence of the last 40 years. at the same time, we have had significant progress for our citizens on issues such as
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education, housing, health, and social services. millions of colombians have been lifted out of poverty. today we continue next to u.s. partners in peace colombia to consolidate peace in the most affected areas. with the robust support of your government, we are removing thousands of anti-personnel mines that murdered and mutilated children, women, and soldiers. we are healing the wounds of our victims and we are embarking on a big social development program. such as we said today, we are working with your administration to take advantage of the unique opportunity peace offers so as to reduce permanently the
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production of coca leaf in colombia and fight more effectively the other links in drug trafficking including consumption. we must continue and deepen the fight against organized crime, transnational crime. responsible not just for drug trafficking but also for human trafficking and illegal mining. our shared agenda framed within a high-level dialogue that we colombians value so much includes cooperation which has allowed us to have unprecedented progress toward quality education for everyone, and this is a priority in the policies of my government and we wish to do more with regards to innovation and technology. with the active participation of
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the private sector, we have reached trade agreements, investment agreements, that are mutually beneficial. this morning, we established the entrepreneurial counsel between the united states and colombia. we are and wish to continue to be the best nation in latin america for american businesses. colombia will continue to be very proudly a close friend and a strategic ally of the united states. dear president trump, i hope you can visit us soon so that you can personally witness the transformation under way in our country. i hope to be able to welcome you to a colombia in peace, a more equitable colombia, a better educated colombia, that you have
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so much contributed to. thank you so much. >> thank you very much. does anybody have any questions? i'm shocked. john, go ahead. >> mr. president, thank you very much. >> thank you. >> let's -- oh. mr. president, i want to get your reaction to at the attorney general rod rosenstein's decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate the russian interference in the campaign, was this the right move or is this part of a witch hunt? >> well, i respect the move, but the entire thing has been a witch hunt and there is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign, but i can only speak for myself and the russians, zero. i think it divides the country. i think we have a very divided country because of that and many
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other things. so i can tell you that we want to bring this great country of ours together, john, and i will also say very strongly, we've had tremendous success. you look at our job numbers. you look at what's going on at the border as we discussed before. you look at what will be happening. you're going do see some incredible numbers with respect to the success of general mattis and others with the isis situation. the numbers are staggering how successful they've been, the military has been. tomorrow, as you know, i'm going to saudi arabia. going to israel. going to rome. we have the g-7. we have a lot of great things going on. so i hate to see anything that divides. i'm fine with whatever people want to do, but we have to get back to running this country really, really well. we made tremendous progress in the last 100 and some odd days. tremendous progress. and you see job numbers, you see all of the production that's
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starting, plants starting to open again, haven't been open in years. i'm very proud of it. that's what i want to be focused on because believe me, there's no collusion. russia is fine, but whether it's russia or anybody else, my total priority, believe me, is the united states of america. so, thank you very much. >> translator: president trump, president santos, can we say that today we are setting a new roadmap in the relationship between colombia and the united states which are the concrete commitments? you are talking about the post-conflict time. many funds are needed for that. on the issue of venezuela, president trump, many deaths, human rights violations, there's
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plenty to be done. >> as well as a very, very serious problem. we haven't really seen a problem like that, i would say, mr. president, in decades, terms of the kind of violence that we're witnessing. the president was telling me, and i knew that venezuela was a very, very wealthy country. just about the wealthiest in your neck of the woods. and had tremendous strengths in so many different ways and now it's poverty stricken. people don't have enough to eat. people have no food. there's great violence. and we will do whatever is necessary and we'll work together to do whatever is necessary to help with fixing that and i'm really talking on a humanitarian level. when you look at the oil reserves that they have, when you look at the potential wealth that venezuela has, you sort of have to wonder, why is that
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happening, how is that possible? but it's been unbelievably poorly run for a long period of time and hopefully that will change and they can use those assets for the good and to take care of their people because right now, what's happening is really a disgrace to humanity, and john, i think you also had a question for the president, if you'd like to. >> does he have another one? >> yeah. >> this question about the commitme commitment. >> translator: the commitment on president trump's side and his administration was shown through the approval of the budget that for colombia means an increase in the support to fund the post-conflict era. last night, we received from a very important organization, the
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atlantic council, a report which includes both parties, presided by a republican senator and a democrat senator with a roadmap recommending the governments of the united states and colombia to follow. this morning, we established these entrepreneurial council, u.s./colombia, so the private sector can also have a voice in that roadmap. this means we are working together on every front that can be convenient for both countries. we'll continue to work together. we have ratified that commitment today during our conversation, and as i said before, we have the best of relations with the united states. we are strategic allies in the region and we will continue to be so. >> thank you, mr. president. president santos, to you, you
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heard president trump say that critical to stopping the flow of drugs into the united states will be the wall that he wants to build on the mexican border. do you agree with him? would that wall be a step, a positive step, a step toward reducing the flow of drugs across the border? >> i believe that the best way to fight the drug trafficking by collaborating. this is not a problem of colombia only or a problem of the united states only. it's a world problem. and we have to all work together. we declared the war on drugs 40 years ago. the world declared a war on drugs and it's a war that has not been won. so we must be more effective and more efficient. now, we are doing a very big effort. because of the peace process to have a new strategy, carrot and
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stick. stick by force eradication, we have already eradicated this year only 15,000 hectares which is the whole volume that we eradicated last year, and we're starting to eradicate, to substitute voluntarily through a program where the peasants, we have 80,000 families already in the program, that they are going to substitute for legal crops and this is the first time that this could be done because of the peace. before, the conflict did not allow us to build roads and to give these peasants and alternative. now we have. so we have to take advantage of this opportunity and continue reducing the production of cocoa. in the meantime, we'll work together, the u.s. and colombia, with other countries, central america, to fight the other links of the chain.
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the interneed armeintermediarie. we destroyed 22,000 laboratories in the colombia jungles. seizing the cocaine in the transit. we have seized record amount of tons last year, and this year, we're doing even better than last year. so by working together, we can be much more effective and that is the commitment we just made or ratified this afternoon. >> and that was a long and very diplomatic answer to your question. i will say it a little bit shorter. walls work. just ask israel. they work. believe me. they work. and we have no choice. peter baker? yes? >> thank you, mr. president. in the light of a very busy news week, a lot of people would like to get to the bottom of a couple things, give you a chance to go on record ear. did you at any time urge former fbi director james comey in any
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way, shape or form to close or back down the investigation into michael flynn? and also, as you -- >> no. >> -- look back -- >> no. next question? >> next question. as you look back over the past six months or year, have you had any recollection where you've wondered if anything you have done has been something that might worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or impeachment as some on the left are implying? >> i think it's totally ridiculous. everybody thinks so. again, we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have. we have plenty of problems. we've done a fantastic job. we have a tremendous group of people, millions and millions of people out there that are looking at what you have just said and said, what are they doing? director comey was very unpopular with most people. i actually thought when i made that decision, and i also got a very, very strong recommendation, as you know, from the deputy attorney
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general, rod rosenstein, but when i made that decision, i actually thought that it would be a bipartisan decision because you look at all of the people on the democratic side, not only the republican side, that were saying such terrible things about director comey. then he had the very poor performance on wednesday. that was a poor, poor performance. so poor, in fact, that i believe, and you'd have to ask him, because i don't like to speak for other people, but i believe that's why the deputy attorney general went out and wrote his very, very strong letter and then on top of that, after the wednesday performance by director comey, you had a person come and have to readjust the record which many people have never seen before because there were misstatements made and i thought that was something that was terrible. we need a great director of the fbi. i cherish the fbi.
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it's special. all over the world, no matter where you go, the fbi is special. the fbi has not had that special reputation with what happened in the campaign, what happened with respect to the clinton campaign, and even you could say directly or indirectly with respect to the much more successful trump campaign. we're going to have a director who's going to be outstanding. i'll be announcing that director very soon, and i look forward to doing it. i think the people in the fbi will be very, very -- very, very thrilled. just in concluding, we look forward to getting this whole situation behind us so that when we go for the jobs, we'll go for the strong military, when we go for all of the things that we've been pushing so hard and so successfully including health care, because obamacare is collapsing, it's dead. it's gone. there's nothing to compare anything to because we don't have health care in this country.
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you just look at what's happening. aetna just pulled out. other insurance companies are pulling out. we don't have health care. obamacare is a fallacy. it's gone. we need health care. we need to cut taxes. we're going to cut taxes. forget what i want, it will be the biggest tax cut in the history of our nation and that's what i want. it's going to bring back companies. it's going to bring back jobs. we lost so many jobs and so many companies to countries that are not so far from you, mr. president. they're very close to you, actually. and to many other places throughout the world. we're going to change that. we're going to have expansion. we already do. you look at what's happening with ford and with general motors in michigan and ohio. you look at the tremendous number of jobs that are being announced in so many different fields. that's what i'm proud of and that's what we want to focus our energy on. the other is something i can only tell you, there was no collusion and everybody, even my enemies, have said there is no
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collusion. so, we want to get back and keep on the track that we're on because the track that we're on is record-setting and that's what we want to do. we want to break very positive records. thank you. you can ask a question. >> oh, sorry, you have another question? >> for you, yes, sir, mr. president. my question is, as someone who led an asia that has done lot of rebuilding, had to rebound over an epidemic of crime and drugs over quite a few years, what do you make of mr. trump's america-first policy? and further, you've had a tough time with conservative radio. sometimes been called a punching bag. you said you have to persevere. i'm curious if you've given any advice on president trump on how to do so. >> i don't think i'm in a position to give any advice to president trump. he can take care of himself. and what i -- what we did in
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colombia, you quite rightly mentioned it, is persevere. we -- when you know you're part of this nation, and you know that you're doing the correct thing, you simply have to persevere and that's what we've done in colombia and that's why we were on the verge of being a fail state some years ago, and now we're one of the stars of the region. and that's through hard work, perseverance, and clarity of your objectives. and that's what we have done and we have to continue because the trip is not over. >> translator: mr. president, i'd like to ask you about trade. you're about to start the renegotiation of nafta and colombia and like other count
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countries in the hemisphere has a large trade deficit with the united states. are you worried about the fact that that could contribute to increasing that trade deficit? >> on the peace process in colombia. >> well, it's been a long process and it's been a great thing to watch in the sense that the president did a fantastic job. that's not easy after so many years of war. so i'm very, very proud to get to know you and i really congratulate you. there's nothing tougher than peace, and we want to make peace all over the world and you are really a great example of somebody that started it. i mean, fark, that was a long, tough situation, as you know very well coming from the country, but i think the president has done a magnificent job. not easy, but he's done a magnificent job.
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>> translator: clear impossible. on the trade issue, our deficit with the united states is not so large. it is a moderate deficit which, of course, both countries will try to increase the volume of trade in both directions and investments also in both directions. colombia is becoming an important investor here in the united states and this is something not many people know, but we have considerable investments in the united states. we have attempted to give dynamism of these flows of trade, of investment. getting together those main play who are the investors in the private sector, i believe the foundations have been laid. we have the free trade agreement which is working well.
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the number of colombian businesses, export into the united states has grown and we both believe that we can take greater advantage of those agreements in order to increase flows in both directions for the benefit both of the colombian and american peoples. >> thank you very much, everybody. thank withdryou. thank you. >> let's listen to see if anything else transpires here before they leave the room. as we ready or kocorrespondents nicolle wallace, there was a bit of reordering of events. >> yeah. >> concerning rod rosenstein. >> yeah the only reason, i mean, this is what piqued my interest when senator rubio was speaking about whether or not deputy attorney general rosenstein had made clear sort of the order of events. that's important because it gets to what was on -- what he said
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was on his mind when he fired jim comey in an interview with lester holt. he said the russia investigation was on my mind. i thought i heard him in the press conference reorder the sequencing again, say that director comey gave a bad performance and a testimony, it was one he had to correct an answer. talking about distinction between forwarded e-mails and e-mails that automatically download. and then he referenced this rod rosenstein memo again then he talks about firing him. we understand from other reporting that deputy attorney general rosenstein knew that he was -- that comey was going to be fired before he wrote that memo. you know, the problem -- the central problem donald trump has is that the professionals that are around him have their own equities. they have their and reputations. their own decades-long careers that are now being trampled upon by things that donald trump trots out on twitter and in press conferences, seemingly, without a lot of fore thought. >> peter alexander is in the room and is now able to talk to us. peter, our headline here was the
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ros rosenstein reordering there of timing. >> reporter: brian, i think you're exactly right. there was a striking moment in there, you heard the president say peter baker, or peter back there, appeared to be pointing at me, peter becamer from "the new york times" was not in the room. i'll have to go to the will call window to get my question at the next news conference asked. i think you're right in laying out what we heard which is a bit different than the way the story had been communicated communicated it was based on the deputy attorney general. today it appeared again by the president's remarks it was the deputy attorney general's recommendation that he was following once again. you know, i don't know that there was anything that struck us beyond the statements you've been talking about today. there were some other questions that didn't get answered. i think still a lot of unanswered questions about michael flynn, whether he regrets the decision to have hired michael flynn. president obama, we're told,
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warned him about michael flynn. if he has any regrets that he didn't follow that advice back in the day. more broadly about the information, the highly class y classified information, he has said to have provided to two senior russian officials in the oval office during that visit last week. whether he can be trusted with highly classified information in the same way that he suggested his opponent during the course of the campaign, hillary clinton, could not be. brian? >> peter, how much exposure to the media are we expecting on the overseas trip? are there a number of these availabilities? is there at least one per day? is it -- are they disappearing or have more been added to the schedule? >> reporter: they're definitively disappearing. far u fewer on past trips. i went to saudi arabia with president obama, went to israel with him. the opportunity to see the president, not so much to interact with him but pose questions to him had been frequent. this time around, it's not entirely clear. appears at this point there may not be any opportunity to ask
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the president questions directly in the form of a news conference as we meets with foreign leaders. we will have opportunities to hear him deliver abbreviated remarks both in saudi arabia and in israel and elsewhere, but i think it's something we'll be focused on. this white house which i think you could say has been embatt d embattled, fatigued, deflated is trying to find the energy to deliver a strong performance on the world stage when the stakes are as high as anything they've accomplished so far. now it's not just americans who are watching, the entire world certain sly who will be watchin as he comes to their front yard. >> absolutely, peter alexander, thanks. nicolle, going back through my notes, obamacare is dead, there is no health care. after he said i respect the move but the whole thing has been a witch hunt, i'm fine with whatever people want to do. >> also, i mouthed to you, obviously someone told him to stop sounding so crazy. you know, i'm fine with whatever everyone wants to do, to me read as everyone has told me to back off the rage meter. he's not fine.
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we know he's not fine because he reveals himself in his early morning tweets. he's not fine with the way this is being covered. we also know, i think we've reported it, i've heard, myself, from sources that when he learned of the special counsel being appointed, we've used the word spirited, i think, but he was furious, and the statement that came out of the white house was not a representation of how he felt about the news. it was very muted and that's why the tweets struck everyone as so dramatic this morning because they had sort of repressed his genuine feelings in the room when he learned of the special counsel. i think that peter's point about the trip is interesting because i know from briefings that a lot of us have attended that they do have deliverables. they will announce sort of prearranged outcomes, outputs. >> they know -- going into -- >> they know what's going to happen. right. >> you have communique already written. >> exactly. they have something they hope will be impressive and exciting and represent real progress in the first stop in saudi arabia, but the president has not been directing the diplomacy. it's been at the direction of
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the interagency process which jared sort of runs along with h.r. mcmaster and dina powell with plug-ins from state with the secretary tillerson and secretary mattis and it is a functional interagency policy process. it's unclear to me how involved the president has been in the specific policy announcementes that we're going to hear on this trip. i don't know if that's part of why there won't be press availabilities but it's certainly one theory. the other is they don't want to get off script. it does make it curious that they think they're going to get attention on these foreign policy announcements with the whole sort of white house and all of washington engulfed in scandal. >> by the way, folks tuning in, 4:42 eastern time, to see "deadline white house" as hosted by nicolle wallace, we've been covering this rolling breaking news and that means today's "white house event. one more question, eugene robinson is standing by to join our conversation, but the desk officers at the state de, they spend their professional careers immersed. if you're the desk officer on
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saudi arabia, you know your subject matter with some pride. are they involved? >> you know, i don't know the answer about the desk officers. i know you know your presidential history and there are some who used to call them directly. that practice has largely been abandoned over the last couple presidencies for this interagency process that i know that dina powell and h.r. have tried to replicate inside the white house with sort of the logical inputs from state and d.o.d., but i think sadly the era might be gone when a president can pick up the phone or when they want to. i think the interagency process, it was certainly formalized during the bush presidency around the war on terror, requiring everyone to get around a table in a situation room. but it is odd to me that a president who sort of points -- he thinks he's doing a good job on foreign policy. he thinks the strike on syria, he thinks those were some of the high points of his 119-day presidency. it is odd he would embark on a
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trip that has required a lot of planning even including the folks that man those desks at the state department, that he wouldn't avail himself to the press to draw attention to something we know he's actually proud of. whether you think it's legit or not, we know he thinks his foreign policy so far is going well. >> in this show, we call it special edition of "deadline white house," eugene robinson is standing by. the pulitzer prize winning columnist for the "washington post." what do you think we just witnessed? >> well, nicolle, let me set aside for a second what president trump had to say or most of it because, and talk about the guy at the other podium, president juan manuel santos of colombia, happens to be somebody i've known for nearly 30 years. we were neiman fellows together at harvard in 1988. and even then you could tell he was an extraordinary person. didn't quite know he was going to become president of the country and win a nobel prize but he is a happy guy right now because what he got just now in
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that room was a full-throated endorsement of the peace that he has made with the guerillas ending a 50-year civil war that cost tens of thousands of lives and it's very -- it was controversial peace. his predecessors in colombia have been actively trying to go around him to president trump to sort of sabotage american support for it, and so i hope the state department desk officer and general mcmaster and everybody, i hope this is what they decided they wanted to do, just to go all in behind president santos because that's what president trump did and that's certainly what the folks in colombia heard and i guess that's what u.s. policy is right now. >> and eugene, you can hear the briefing from the president. you can hear his mind remembering points and way points, terminology, advice on
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tone, as he speaks. the notable quote, as i just said to nicolle, "i'm fine with whatever people want to do." >> yeah, i thought that was amazing because you looked at the early-morning tweets, no, he's not fine with it at all. and it's very clear. in fact, he's -- he's obsessed with it and there will be another eruption of his obsession about this. you know, it is -- day to day, this presidency is literally all drama, all the time, and so what should be a routine appearance by the u.s. president and the president of colombia, not something that usually, like, jam packs the room and makes all the networks pay attention and in this case, of course, you do, because you do not know what president trump is going to say. i have a feeling, just a hunch, within 24 hours, he'll give us a
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different view on the special counsel. >> eugene robinson, thank you for standing by for us in washington. nicolle? >> you know what happens when eugene has a hunch, usually bears out. i'm going to bring in mark from "the new york times" who has one of the bylines in the story that kept us all up and kept us talking about trump team, knew flynn was under investigation before he came to the white house. just one of the blockbusters this week. but one of the paragraphs i haven't been able to get past, i wanted to ask you about, that's why we invited you on for the hour, you write about how "the new york times" reviewed one of the subpoenas that demands all records, research, contacts, bank records, communications and other documents, i wonder if you heard anything from the president that suggested that he has any idea what's about to happen. >> well, that's a broad question. i think that -- i mean, i think he probably does have an idea. i think he certainly senses the import of the naming of the special counsel, what it means, and, you know, the fact that there are subpoenas out on some
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of his former advisers, although that part isn't new. it certainly suggests the seriousness of a justice department investigation into this. whether it be, you know, ties to russians or to, you know, general flynn's business contacts before the election. so, you know, it certainly did appear, you know, from certainly the president's tweets this morning that he senses that this is somewhat serious even though he calls it a witch hunt. >> mark, being an investigative reporter, knowing the intrica intricacies when you look at a subpoena, do you think rumors about people around the white house, even the president, i think there's some reporting today that the president has been given the advice to retain private counsel, not to rely on the white house counsel's office, do you think we're heading into a chapter where if it's possible this white house becomes even more opaque and that the investigations really consume -- i mean, he's heading
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out on a foreign trip. they're trying to go about some business as usual, but you know investigations, you know how they tend to swallow up a white house. do you think we're heading into a point where this white house becomes even more opaque, even more dysfunctional? >> well, if anything we've seen in the last week, that all of this is, to put it mildly, not going away, and it sort of has this feeling of building momentum and so, therefore, you can be certain, and as our -- as our paper reported a few hours ago, you know, as you said, there is a discussion about the president having outside counsel. and, you know, certainly given all we know about the various investigations into people who are still in the white house, who are white house officials, you know, they will have to sort of think about retaining their own counsel, et cetera. because as we know, as we've experienced, washington investigations are drawn out both for legal reasons but also for political reasons. you know, this is something that
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the white house and white house officials certainly will be cognizant of and will sort of sense the gravity of. >> thank you, all of your reporting. >> andrea mitchell standing by in washington. >> there were several exchanges we'll be talking about throughout the evening. one of them was that comey, did you ask him to knock off the investigation? >> he said no, he did not and went to the next question. so that makes it more important according to the senate investigators who say they want to see comey's memos. certainly mueller has access to all those memos and the house wants to see them and they want to see comey. that is one of the things that will be critical to these congressional investigations. they want a scene that, a they have subpoenaed from mike flynn.
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so far they have not gotten that. senators have said they're extending the deadline until next wednesday to see whether they will get the information from mike flynn who had previously said through his attorney that he wanted immunity, which they are not about to give him. and there is more from what they've reported from the "new york times" that we've confirmed. that part of big issue with mike flynn is the substantive effect of his not disclosing to the obama people his turkish connection. the fact that he told them and they still hired him is shocking to most people. then they would not get vetted through very intensive questi questionnaires they were given, they would not get past the
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first questionnaire if they came in and said they were under fbi investigation, they would say thank you very much. they would say come back if you're ever cleared. there is to way they would be hired for the lower press officer, to say nothing of national security adviser on. top of that that we've confirmed that susan rice, at president obama's direction, went to mike flynn in the transition and said we're about to make this decision which we've been fighting over for months, to arm the syrian kurds. the best fighters against isis in northern syria. since it will lapse into the new presidency, past january 20th, what is your new view? and he said he was against it so they did not proceed. on president obama's orders, they did not arm those fighters because turkey was against it. he did not say he was clearly conflicted, having taken $500,000 fighting as a lobbyist for this turkish firm.
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so that is going to be part of mueller investigation. >> there is a technical phrase that sums this up. what a mess. we've reracked that moment. the question to the president about comey. here it is. >> did you at any time urge fbi director james comey to close or to back down the investigation into michael flynn? >> no. no. next question. as you look back, have you had any recollection where you've wondered if anything you have done has been something that might be worthy of criminal charges in these investigations or impeachment as some on the left are implying? >> i think it is totally ridiculous. everybody thinks so. and again we have to get back to working our country properly so that we can take care of the problems that we have. >> nicole wallace, into whose time slot we have trampled.
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>> a welcome trampling. >> you have too many house guests. when the president says that, he is putting himself right up against a meticulous note taker. the former head of the fbi. >> not just a note taker. you know when you get a speeding ticket? you're like, he know i got busted going 85 in a 40 -- >> i don't know what you're talking about. >> actually, the moms with the kids in the car seats. we speed the most. just give me the ticket already. imagine the nation's top cop. what kind of report do you think he writes? when he has conversation with someone who may be a witness or a subject or just of interest to an investigation. he is described to me as a diaryist. not like dear diary, but someone who is a chronicler of events. the fact that he keeps taunting fate and people he's fired and
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insulted is the most destructive thing he's doing. i brought in another smart friend. john rizzo, he spent 34 years in the general counsel's office. he is the author of a book called company man. 30 years of controversy and crisis at the cia. he knows mueller and the way investigations take on a life of their own. >> 34 years at the craft, i went through cia liaison with the randle contra committees. and at one point, i don't think it was made sufficiently strongly so far, is the impact of these investigations. congressional, special counsel, if there's an independent commission, has on the intelligence community. this is going to take thousands and thousands of man hours,
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collecting documents, responding to interview requests, lawyering up, if the case may be. enormously draining. it goes back to the author who wrote the book about independent special counsels. this investigation, mueller's investigation, will go on for months, if not years. so i mean, i think the american public should be aware that these kinds of things, these investigations have consequences. i'm not saying they shouldn't be conducted. it is inevitable and appropriate in this case. but it does have a collateral damage effect on the ability of the intelligence community to do day to day work for current and future effects. >> people in the intelligence community seem to be the best students of human nature.
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i saw that donald trump seemed to work very hard to say he was fine with whatever, the special counsel. trying to pull back his anger from this morning. knowing the man that you know, bob mueller, if you can predict sort of where they will collide publicly? >> i don't know that they'll collide publicly. bob mueller is notoriously as you and brian know, he never held press conferences at the fbi, or very seldom. he's been gone from the fbi for five years and he hasn't written a memoir, he hasn't even double interviews. so i think he is a private man. preferring to operate behind the scenes. i don't anticipate the kind of dramatic confrontation with the president to be, for him to play it out in public. now, you know, it will be up to mr. trump to see if he wants to make this a one-man performance. mueller is not that kind of guy.
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>> exactly. thank you. so for being with us. >> it has been interesting to watch. >> to hear people saying in such a cynical age, how could this one guy be the best guy? and people pointing to his resume and his bearing and his reputation and saying no, he might be the best guy. >> he is also the guy who after 9/11 sort of, with a very willing partner in the cia, changed the way intelligence was -- we talk about the public man. we talk about -- he is a man who kept the country safe in the years after 9/11 when the question wasn't, whether or not we would be attacked again. it was where would the attack be? if you remember, most people felt, what city is next? he was the man running the fbi in those years after 9/11 and worked hand in hand with the cia to connect the dots. how we talked about intelligence in those intervening years. >> i was remembering last night,
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what was he on the job a week before -- >> if that. he became one of president bush's most vital advisers. and when there was a kerfuffle or a conflict and it involved james comey at the time, george bush stood squarely in the corner of him. >> the power and the job of the u.s. attorney. the power and the job of an fbi director. you can guess, the reverence there is for mueller at justice and the fbi. we've witnessed a lot in this hour. the president of colombia, the president of the united states. we've heard the president on the record in this story. our thanks to those at the table. mostly we've just run rough shod. >> i think it is fun. i think you should wander down
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and play with us more often. i stale until 11:00 most days. i get the treat of turning this over to katy tur who is anchoring "mtp daily." >> we're happy to have you over here as well. it is a smaller table but we would love for to you join us. i'm katy tur in new york in for chuck todd. welcome to "mtp daily." welcome to another day of bomb shells, embroiling the president. all 24 hours after the appointment of the special counsel for the investigation. for the first time since allegations were raised against sgroem the president urged him to shut down the investigation into his former national security adviser, michael flynn. it was also the first time he took questions since the department of justice appointed the fbi director robert mueller as a special prosecutor to oversee the widech


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